April 11, 2005
Written by C.N.
As reported by the New York Times, over the weekend, there were a series of often violent anti-Japan protests in China over the recent approval of textbooks in Japan that once again minimized and downplayed Japan’s atrocities committed during World War II against China, South Korea, and other Asian countries. As the article notes,
The marches have set off a steep decline in the already troubled diplomatic relations between Asia’s big powers and threatened to harm their important economic relationship. Japan has recently adopted a more assertive foreign policy, and its relations with South Korea have deteriorated as well, so the dispute with China could leave Japan isolated in Asia. . .
But the fight over the past has also crystallized into a fight over the future, as South Korea and China have each moved to oppose Japan’s effort to win a permanent seat on an expanded United Nations Security Council. South Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations, Kim Sam Hoon, recently said that “a country that does not have the trust of its neighboring countries because of its lack of reflection on the past” could not play the “role of a world leader.”
International criticisms and protests against Japan’s collective denial of their brutal actions during World War II is nothing new, but it appears that in combination with Japan’s efforts to get a permanent seat in the U.N. Security Council, these tensions between Japan and its Asian neighbors have escalated dramatically as these issues have come to the forefront. Interestingly, Salon.com has this article about a new strategic alliance between China and India:
The agreement, signed by both premiers, eases decades of mutual distrust between the nations, which share a mountainous, 2,500-mile border and fought a war in 1962. Parts of the border still are not demarcated. . . The agreement outlined steps to demarcate the disputed boundary through a “fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution, through equal and friendly consultations,” a statement announcing the partnership said. . .
The statement, while giving few details, said the agreement would promote diplomatic relations, economic ties and contribute to the nations “jointly addressing global challenges and threats.” . . The two countries also signed cooperation agreement in areas such as civil aviation, finance, education, science and technology, tourism and cultural exchanges.
For various reasons, Japan has become rather conservative and reactionary in recent years and has been increasingly rubbing its neighbors the wrong way. Perhaps as a result, what is also becoming clear is that despite Japan’s best efforts, its political and economic dominance over the region appears to be waning. As the South Korean official notes, it also does not help Japan’s credibility when it continues to bury its head in the sand over its actions against its neighbors during WWII.
In other words, we may be witnessing the end of Japan as Asia’s primary superpower, replaced by the emergence of China (and its allies India and South Korea).
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "International Politics in Asia" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2005/04/international-politics-in-asia/> ().
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